Gynecomastia in Teenage Boys
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons published a study taken in 2012, which showed that gynecomastia is the number one procedure performed on teenagers in the U.S. The average age of these boys ranges between 13-19. Since the first statistics were recorded in 1997, gynecomastia surgery has doubled. This can be attributed to the increase of awareness and understanding about gynecomastia. As a result, we are finally seeing boys and men start to come out of hiding and do something about their problem.
Gynecomastia usually occurs when boys enter into puberty. The chest area starts to enlarge and look feminine. Some boys even look like they have female breasts. This can become uncomfortable and painfully embarrassing. Regardless if the case is mild or severe, it is humiliating for teenage boys. Most of the time the issue resolves itself by adulthood, however for many the problem never goes away. There is still no clear indication as to the exact causes for gynecomastia, however there are some studies which show a link to the hormonal changes during puberty. There might also be a connection with using certain drugs like marijuana or steroids. Another factor could be obesity in teenagers. Sadly, regardless of the reason, we do know that the disorder robs teenage boys of their adolescent years. Living with enlarged breasts takes an emotional toll on teenagers and often times their family as well. It is common for boys to start wearing bulky heavy clothing to hide their enlarged chest for fear they will be made fun of by their peers. A dead giveaway is seeing someone wear unusually bulky clothing in hot weather. You will even see boys constantly pulling their shirt away from their body. This is to keep people from seeing their enlarged chest. Boys will begin to shy away from social activities, such as going to the beach or pool, because this would put them in a situation where they would have to take their shirt off. Male teens suffering with gynecomastia tend to become reclusive and unable to engage in relationships. In addition, they may become sad, depressed and/or moody.
The more we can bring the topic of gynecomastia to the fore-front, the more likely boys will be able to start opening up about their condition. The first step in getting help is for patients to understand they are not alone and there is something that can be done to give them their life back.